Stara Zagora Landfill Site, Bulgaria


The project for the construction of a regional landfill site near Stara Zagora provoked the local opposition of the villagers of Rakitnitsa near which the new facility will be situated. The project plans for the waste of 12 municipalities in the region, with a population of over 350 000 people, to be stored at the new landfill site. The opposition started in 2009 when people gathered for the first time in front of the Stara Zagora Municipality building to express their discontent. In the same year they established an Initiative committee to help them with their fight against the construction of the landfill and expressed their willingness to participate in a local referendum concerning the problem of waste storage. This proposal was rejected in 2011 by the Municipal Council of Stara Zagora. The ecologist working at Stara Zagora Municipality admits that the idea of the project was wrong from the very beginning. She explains that the region which will be serviced by the future landfill is not rationally defined i.e. does not take into account the large population and long distances which the trucks transporting the waste will have to drive (over 120 km).

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Basic Data
NameStara Zagora Landfill Site, Bulgaria
ProvinceStara Zagora
Accuracy of LocationLOW country/state level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Waste Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Mineral ore exploration
Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Specific CommoditiesCopper
Domestic municipal waste
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe preparations for construction of a new regional landfill site near Stara Zagora started in early 2004 when Bulgaria, then a EU candidate member state, became obliged to begin the construction of 23 regional landfills. The project proposal itself was submitted later than expected because of the initial lack of willingness by the local municipalities to associate and to make the project together. This however is a vital requirement for implementation of such project with European funds.

Initially there were two sites which were suggested as possible for the construction of a regional landfill site near Stara Zagora - the first one was that of the existing landfill at Mandra Bair (about six kilometers away from Stara Zagora) and the second was near the village of Rakitnitsa (15 kilometers away). Experts assess that the Mandra Bair is much more suitable because it is big enough and geographically better situated. Unexpectedly however it was discovered that the place possess a geological storage of natural resources - limestone building materials. Soon in 2008 the Minister of regional development gave the site on a concession for exploration and processing to the private company Inmat Ltd. Radnevo.

The forecast is that the landfill will be built in 2014 and the period for its exploitation will be from 5 to 7 years.

Project Area (in hectares)35
Level of Investment (in USD)20000000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population370000
Start Date2009
Relevant government actorsStara Zagora Municipality, REIW Stara Zagora, Ministry of Environment and Water
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersLocal Initiative Committee
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Food insecurity (crop damage)
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseDeaths
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Development of AlternativesA solution has been proposed in 2010 by a local politician for choosing an alternative site of the regional landfill at the so called blind spots of Maritza Iztok where coal mines had been in exploitation.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.In 2010 the EIA decision was challenged by the Initiative Committee of the villagers of Rakitnitsa. They soon realized that their statements have not been taken into account. Other wrongdoings emerged to the surface after it became clear that there was no detailed development plan and the location did not correspond to the area of the landfill. The official complaint letter against the construction of a regional landfill site near Rakitnitsa was first approved by Regional Administrative Court but later it was rejected by the Supreme Administrative Court of Bulgaria.

In a letter filed to the EU Parliaments Petition Committee the chairmen of the Initiative Committee insist that state and municipality unite their efforts to adequately and legally solve the problem in compliance with Bulgarian and European legislation on waste management and respecting the principles of transparency and public participation. His statement was supported by the chief of the Ecological inspection of Stara Zagora, who (possibly not by chance) failed to become the next director of REIW Stara Zagora.

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ContributorEvgenia Tasheva
Last update08/04/2014